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12 months of life sciences and healthcare at MaRS

December 23, 2013

♫ On the 12th month of life sciences, my true love gave to me a very happy 2013 to be proud of and a promising new year! ♪

This year was an eventful one for the life sciences and healthcare (LSHC) practice at MaRS. A biotech client raised $2.4 million in its first initial public offering (IPO) and is now listed in the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) Venture Exchange, several clients obtained United States Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada approval to initiate clinical trials and many clients made media appearances to share their impactful stories.

One cannot forget that raising funds for LSHC startups is not easy; however, the impact they make with their developments is strong: patient access to innovative technologies that save lives and provide better quality of life. Read on for a highlight of what the LSHC practice and clients were up to this year!

Future of Medicine, Global Leadership and client showcases

LSHC contributed to innovative thought leadership through our continued collaboration with MaRS Entrepreneurship Programs to deliver the MaRS Future of Medicine (FoM) Series. This year, we had the good fortune to host many influential speakers, including:

  • Dan Gordon, executive consultant of  IBM Global Healthcare Centre of Competence, who spoke to the global trending of the digital hospital; and
  • Dr. Leslie Levin, vice president of Health Quality Ontario’s Evidence Development and Standards Team, who highlighted that for healthcare systems internationally, it is becoming increasingly important to see evidence of innovations decreasing hospital admissions and displacing alternatives to existing technologies (based on cost, patient and system-wide benefit) instead of “simply” fulfilling regulatory requirements.

Together we also organized a lunch panel discussion with Ontario Genomics Institute on the waves of big data and personalized medicine as part of the MaRS Global Leadership series.

LSHC also held many events directed at entrepreneurs at various stages to address trending challenges and barriers in a startup’s life cycle. Through the FoM series we invited speakers from Export Development Canada and Social Venture Connexion to discuss global export and alternative funding opportunities, respectively. PwC hosted a networking event for a focused group of MaRS clients in the health information technology space to encourage ventures to learn from others in a similar field or even to find opportunity for partnership. The event was well received and we hope it will be one of many MaRS-organized networking events in the future.

We also organized multiple client showcases where high-potential and investment-ready MaRS companies aligned with industry’s research and innovation priorities pitched to C-level industry executives for potential partnering opportunities, which led to further discussions and follow-on collaboration for some. LSHC now has six industry partners: Amgen, Canon, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Pfizer and PwC.

MaRS HealthKick coming May 15, 2014

LSHC is currently working on building a network of professional investors interested in supporting Ontario companies within or across the spectrum of the life sciences and healthcare sector, including biotech/pharma, medical device/diagnostics and healthcare IT. What better way to attract interest than to let the clients speak for themselves? LSHC has started holding small-scale, recurring showcases of our investment-ready clients to our existing investor connections, which have proven successful with industry. We have also begun organizing MaRS HealthKick 2014, Canada’s largest venture showcase, to help attract new investors to MaRS, Ontario and Canada.

HealthKick will see up to 60 of Ontario’s most innovative, emerging and investment-ready healthcare ventures pitch to potential investors and partners in one day. This inaugural event is in line with the MaRS strategy to help our ventures gain access to capital. In 2012, LSHC companies raised over $100 million in capital. Based on announcements we have received from our companies so far, we expect this year’s annual survey will disclose a greater total. We hope HealthKick will contribute to and augment this value even more in 2014.

Client successes

LSHC currently has about 60 emerging clients—that is, clients that have a clear business and revenue model, and that are actively developing their technology/product for market-entry and looking for investment. Here are a few of the great successes from 2013.

  • As of February 1, uFluidix relocated to a new facility with state-of-the-art class 1000 manufacturing and research and development cleanrooms.
  • In May, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced (on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation) the first three companies accepted into the MaRS EXCITE program, which included two LSHC clients: ApneaDx and Rna Diagnostics.
  • In June, Antibe Therapeutics successfully closed an IPO and listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. In August, the company completed its third and final tranche to reach the maximum offering under the prospectus of $3 million. Read more in an earlier MaRS blog post.
  • In July, Self Care Catalysts was chosen as one of 10 high-potential companies to participate in Springboard’s 2013 life science accelerator program for their health enterprise product, Patient Storylines.
  • Quantum Dental Technologies (QDT) announced in October that they entered into a co-operative marketing agreement with 3M ESPE whereby a sample kit of 3M ESPE’s innovative fluoride products will be provided with each new sale of QDT’s Canary System in the United States.
  • The official launch of eSight‘s innovative eyewear was held at MaRS on October 22 with coverage by almost every Canadian media outlet.
  • As of December, MaRS nester Synaptive Medical has grown its employee base 10 times from their start at MaRS in April 2013.
The official launch of eSight’s innovative eyewear was held at MaRS on October 22 with coverage by almost every Canadian media outlet

Pictures from left to right: Kevin Rankin, President & CEO, eSight, talks to OMNI news; Jennifer-Anne Gibson and her daughter Emma-Rose, wearing eSight eyewear; Jennifer-Anne Gibson attests to the positive impact the device has on her daughter’s life

As we reflect on the year, we have much to be grateful for …

LSHC is thankful for the sponsorship we have received for MaRS HealthKick 2014 so far. The federal and provincial funding received through the Business Acceleration Program and National Research Council Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program has been critical to helping our clients grow their ventures. The former helped some of our granted clients with consultancy and venture support fees, while the latter helped host constructive events and workshops for our clients.

Last but not least, we are thankful to our wonderful volunteer advisors, who have provided support to the practice’s strategic initiatives, as well as many hours of work to mentor LSHC clients. To the staff at MaRS who help make many of the LSHC endeavours possible, thank you. We look forward to working together again in the new year for an even better 2014!

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Katrin Altosaar

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Katrin is the Life Sciences and Healthcare Associate at MaRS. She works with both life sciences clients and advisors to ensure the best experience for MaRS clients.

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